I have been using と as a way of using 'and' to list things together.

In the instance of joining two self contained sentences together would this be where で is used to mean 'and' or would と still be used? I only recently discovered で can be used to mean 'and' and I'm confused on when it's used over と.


As a general rule, と is only used for listing nouns - whether they be concrete objects like 砂糖とミルクと小麦粉 "sugar and milk and flour", abstract concepts like 愛と勇気 "love and courage", or entire nominalised ideas like 彼と一緒にいられないことと、私自身の心の弱さ "not being able to be with him, and my own inner weakness".

For joining full clauses or sentences, と doesn't usually work (unless you turn one of those clauses into a noun in some way, such as using the expression それと "in addition...", where それ is a pronoun representing the previous statement).

For joining clauses, there are a number of strategies, including the で you're referring to, which is the て-form of the copula だ. More generally, the て-form of any verb can be used to link two clauses, as can the ます-stem.

So for instance the two sentences

That is a dog. This is a cat.

can be linked together by turning だ into its て-form で:

That is a dog and this is a cat.

Using と here would not work (それは犬だとこれは猫だ actually has a completely different meaning "If that is a dog, then this is a cat", because the separate conditional particle と can be used to link clauses in this way).

Similarly the two sentences

I go to the park. I meet my friend.

can be linked together either by turning 行く into its て-form 行って:

I go to the park and meet my friend.

or by instead using its ます-stem 行き:

I go to the park and meet my friend.

If in doubt which to use, the て-form is usually the safer option; it's pretty neutral and appropriate for most registers, whereas the ます-stem sounds more academic, formal or literary, and so can seem oddly stilted in many contexts.

Note that both of these forms, particularly the て-form, tend to imply a sequential relationship if one can apply, so just as in English, the sentences above strongly suggest that you went to the park and then met your friend (though the equivalent sentence about the dog and cat implies no temporal relationship since it would make no sense).

There are of course various other ways of linking two full clauses, such as using one of a variety of conjunctions, or using a relative clause to describe a noun, but the て-form and ます-stem are the most basic form that would generally equate to the use of "and" in English.

  • Thank you for such an in-depth answer! This clears everything up perfectly. – gigaflux0 Mar 7 '18 at 16:36

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.